Blues stock up on All Blacks

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 09:35
Large rieko ioane blues run 2017 800

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Blues head into the Battle of the Bombays with six All Blacks, a Maori All Black and a New Zealand Under-20s player to call from the bench.

However, the starting XV remains unchanged from the side that beat the Rebels 56-18 in Melbourne in the opening round.

Patrick Tuipulotu and Jerome Kaino return for the first time this season to join fellow All Blacks Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Charlie Faumuina, George Moala and Rene Ranger along with Maori All Black Billy Guyton and NZ U-20 representative Hame Faiva.

Jimmy Tupou will again lead the Blues in a pack that were solid in set-piece in Round One. There is a mix of Super experience in prop Pauliasi Manu, up against his former club, Tupou and All Black Steve Luatua who have 156 Super caps between them.

And some enterprising developing stars led by Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane and Gerard Cowley-Tuioti.

The backline, with an average age of just 24 years, took their chances with the front-foot ball to get a further chance, with centre Rieko Ioane bagging a hat-trick of tries and flyhalf Ihaia West moving past the 300-point mark for the Blues.

Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Jimmy Tupou (captain), 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Matt Moulds, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Jerome Kaino, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 George Moala, 23 Rene Ranger.

Date: Friday, March 3
Venue: Waikato
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT)
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 25 March 2017
Blues v Bulls 06h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Highlanders 08h45 Canberra
Sunwolves v Stormers 10h55 Singapore
Kings v Lions 13h05 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Zebre v Munster 14h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Leinster v Cardiff Blues 15h00 RDS Arena
Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers 15h00 Franklin's Gardens
Saracens v Bath 15h00 Allianz Park
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 15h00 Twickenham Stoop
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks 15h00 Sandy Park
Cheetahs v Sharks 15h15 Bloemfontein
Glasgow Warriors v Connacht 17h15 Scotstoun Stadium
Treviso v Ospreys 19h35 Stadio Monigo
Treviso v Ospreys 19h35 Stadio Monigo
Jaguares v Reds 21h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 26 March 2017
Wasps v Worcester Warriors 14h30 Ricoh Arena
Mon, 27 March 2017
NWU-Pukke v UP-Tuks 14h45 Potchefstroom
Fort Hare v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Davidson Stadium
Wits v UCT-Ikeys 16h30 Johannesburg
NMMU-Madibaz v CUT-Ixias 16h30 Bloemfontein
UWC v WSU 16h30 Cape Town
Maties v UJ 17h00 Stellenbosch
Fri, 31 March 2017
Highlanders v Rebels 06h35 Dunedin
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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 4 2 0 2 10
Waratahs 5 2 0 3 8
Reds 4 1 0 3 6
Force 4 1 0 3 5
Rebels 4 0 0 4 1
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 5 5 0 0 21
Chiefs 4 4 0 0 19
Hurricanes 4 3 0 1 15
Blues 4 1 0 3 6
Highlanders 4 1 0 3 5
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 3 3 0 0 13
Cheetahs 4 2 0 2 9
Bulls 3 1 0 2 5
Sunwolves 4 0 0 4 1
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Jaguares 4 3 0 1 14
Lions 4 3 0 1 14
Sharks 4 3 0 1 13
Kings 4 1 0 3 5